Fiddling On The Edge Of The Grave
February 16, 2011 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Progressive bluegrass takes the original “melting pot of American music” and infuses it with strains of punk and rock, often giving rise to performances of intense musicianship. Some of the tunes might be familiar to you, such as Crooked Still’s cover of Johnny Cash’s Ain’t No Grave, featured on the True Blood soundtrack, or their aching, gender-twisting rendition of Robert Johnson’s Come On In My Kitchen. Some might be entirely new, such as Seven Story Mountain, by Railroad Earth, or Codeine, from Trampled By Turtles.

Live Tramped By Turtles and Railroad Earth shows are updated regularly at the Internet Archive.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (28 comments total) 87 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so glad other people are finding out about Crooked Still. I love love love love them. Come on in My Kitchen is so seductive. I really should have included it in my last Sexy Time Playlist AskMe response.
posted by madred at 10:04 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the new music!

I feel compelled to mention the well-missed Bad Livers:
Turpentine Willie (with a fascinating story told mostly by Mark Rubin)
Pee Pee the Sailor (solo by Danny Barnes, post-Bad Livers)
Lathe Crick (plus some annoying Beverly Hillbillies stuff)
posted by ardgedee at 10:07 AM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Also see: My Very First Post!
posted by dunkadunc at 10:10 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Trampled By Turtles frickin' rock. Palomino has been heavy on my rotation for a while now and I recommend them to pretty much everyone. Yay Minnesota music scene!
posted by caution live frogs at 10:12 AM on February 16, 2011

This post is a treat. Thanks so much. My music collection thanks you too.
posted by bearwife at 10:18 AM on February 16, 2011

I saw the Bad Livers do real justice to Lust For Life a few times. They were indeed great.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:21 AM on February 16, 2011

Just came in here to say how awesome Crooked Still are, and to strongly encourage everyone to give them a spin.
posted by jbickers at 10:36 AM on February 16, 2011

Does the theme to Justified count?
posted by mecran01 at 10:37 AM on February 16, 2011

Found this gorgeous number -- Half of What We Know -- on You Tube now that this post has made me into an instant Crooked Still fan.
posted by bearwife at 10:41 AM on February 16, 2011

I'm still sad The Mammals are now hibernating. (Yeah, that track is electric, and they're an old-time band rather than what a purist would call bluegrass, I know; still, if you like Crooked Still you should check out their earlier albums for the pure acoustic old-time sound.)

Aoife O'Donovan (Crooked Still) and Ruth Ungar (Mammals) side project Sometymes Why is really great, too; sort of a girl-super-group for acoustic Americana, ballads, et cetera.
posted by RogerB at 10:47 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Crooked Still is great. I hope they're not playing a zillion times at my favorite bluegrass festival this year (as they have the last two), but they are still great.
posted by rollbiz at 10:48 AM on February 16, 2011

One more +1 for Crooked Still, and to throw out a cheer for (the original four members) of The Duhks. [not their video, in case it isn't obvious].

Alas, the original lead singer and fiddle player have moved on. They're still good, but I miss that original sound.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:10 AM on February 16, 2011

Crooked Still is amazing. I went looking for Gregory Liszt's band, The Deadly Gentlemen (who did a kick-ass parody of "come On In My Kitchen," no longer on YT, alas) and to my delight for the Deadly Gentlemen are offering a free download of their latest. I can't say anything about it, because I just now ran across it, but Crooked Still fans might be interested.

(And if anybody can come up with that video, I'd be grateful. IIRC, the bass player was wearing a coonskin cap and Elton-John star-shaped sunglasses. The song itself was funny as hell.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:14 AM on February 16, 2011

I saw Crooked Still live last year and they were absolutely wonderful. There's nothing in this world quite like watching a group of disgustingly talented people revelling in their craft. If you like what you hear, please go see them.

Oh, and stay for the banjo solos. Seriously.
posted by fight or flight at 11:35 AM on February 16, 2011

Thanks for the info, CheeseDigestsAll . I am already a big The Duhks fan -- and in particular can't seem to get enough of listening to their version of Mountains o' Things -- but did not know about the change of personnel in the band.
posted by bearwife at 11:40 AM on February 16, 2011

I'd never heard of Crooked Still, and I don't watch True Blood, but that cover of Ain't No Grave is fantastic. Thanks for pointing me at them.
posted by immlass at 12:43 PM on February 16, 2011

Having a wonderful day here discovering new bands. Punch Brothers are great, judging from your samples, gilrain. Thanks so much.
posted by bearwife at 1:03 PM on February 16, 2011

Yay, Crooked Still! They're playing Wintergrass in a couple of weeks, and I'm gonna be there.
posted by gurple at 1:12 PM on February 16, 2011

Do Old Crow Medicine Show count or are they more traditional? Seen them twice and had an amazing time
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:19 PM on February 16, 2011

What about The Gourds?
posted by KGMoney at 1:35 PM on February 16, 2011

I can barely pull myself away from the Come on in my kitchen clip to suggest that people who like this will probably also enjoy the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:37 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Ain't No Grave" is older than Johnny Cash, for what it's worth. I'm fond of this version, which is raucous and cheerful and wonderfully uncool.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:10 PM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Some more Crooked Still, because I just can't resist:

Locust in the Willow
The Golden Vanity
Half Of What We Know
Angeline the Baker

Also, iirc, their banjo player Greg Liszt has a P.H.D. from MIT in Molecular Biology, which he then gave up to become a finger-picking god.
posted by fight or flight at 2:18 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Great post, thanks for the new music! This will stop the Shoegazer tear I've been on dead in its tracks.

Kind of a self link because I was a founding member (I don't play with them anymore but we're still good friends), but you might also dig Spuyten Dyuvil if you live in NYC. This song about the weird status of slaves in New Amsterdam is one of my favorites of theirs.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:34 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

@nebula glad someone pointed out that it's not "johnny cash's Aint no grave" ta!

My favorite was when I saw Charle Parr do it screaming and stomping acapella to finish up his opening set for Low last December. *chills*

Almost as good:
posted by blackfly at 2:46 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Brother Claude Ely's version of "Ain't No Grave" is one raucous, rousing, rollicking hell-raiser of a tune! Thanks, nebulawindphone.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:30 PM on February 16, 2011

Sort of *meh* about Crooked Still's "Ain't No Grave", but "Come in my Kitchen" is enticing, and love the cello player's Randee of the Redwoods get up.

I saw Railroad Earth at our local music fest last year, definitely a good time was had by all.

Not much to add to the discussion other than I'm glad to see this style of music catching on.
posted by Mr. Crowley at 8:22 PM on February 16, 2011

It's good to see Railroad Earth get some notice on Metafilter. They really are the whole package. The have outstanding songwriting (Long Way to Go, Mighty River, Storms), impressive musicianship (Stillwater Getaway, Little Rabbit, 420), good old-fashioned storytelling (The Old Man and the Land, Potter's Field), music that demands to be clapped, sung and danced along to (Peace on Earth), and epic jams that blow the roof off (Head).

They probably haven't gotten much notice on Metafilter because they're more hippie than hipster as you can tell by the songs they tend to cover:

Gram Parsons - Luxury Liner
The Grateful Dead - The Wheel, My Sisters and Brothers, Terrapin Station
George Harrison - Any Road
The Band - Acadian Driftwood
Tom Waits - Cold Water
Traditional - Wayfaring Stranger
Norman Blake - Whiskey Before Breakfast
posted by euphorb at 8:49 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

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